TTT 015 : Why Reading is Crucial in the Rehabilitation of Prisoners with Lesley Graham (Show Notes)

26 Nov 2015

TTT 015 : Why Reading is Crucial in the Rehabilitation of Prisoners with Lesley Graham (Show Notes)

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In this interview TTT015 with Lesley Graham, we discuss the importance of education and literacy skills in prison. As an educated woman with a degree in Social Administration, Psychology and Criminology Lesley volunteered during her time in prison as a Toe-by Toe-Peer Mentor to help inmates build literacy skills. A 2015 Financial Times article entitled  “How reading can change prisoners’ lives”  referenced Lesley’s work in prison and wrote of how many of the women Lesley taught could not recognise the alphabet, yet were reading a whole book at the end of five months.Whilst out on daily ROTL (Release on Temporary Licence) meaning that she could do volunteer work outside, Lesley gave a lecture on the importance of reading and literacy in rehabilitating prisoners.

You could think that you weren’t in prison, you could have been in a book club anywhere and it was lovely.

Lesley is also a recovering alcoholic and gives up her time to help three individuals overcome their addiction.  We also talk about how she came across the reading group, how the group developed during her time in prison and the positive effects reading can have on prisoners who lack skills and education, as well as what direction education should take in prisons.

Some Questions I ask

How easy is it for prisoners to receive an education in prison?

How did you decide on what books to read in the Prison Reading group?

What were some of the more popular books you read as a group?

Were the women that you mentored on the Toe-by-toe reading scheme then able to participate in the Reading Club?

Do you think that literacy and books were more accessible than numeracy?

Are there many success stories of prisoners changed by education and rehabilitation?


Useful Links mentioned


Still Standing: Kerry Katona Autobiography

Hunger Games

The Shack

Gone Girl


How Reading can Change Prisoners Lives

Literacy Changes Lives 2014: A New Perspective on health, employment and crime

Prison Reading Groups: What books can do behind bars: 1193 – 2013


Lesley Graham

Professor Jenny Hartley

Michael Gove 

Frank Harris

Tony Adams


Prison Education Trust   a charity working across 125 prisons in England & Wales to help people in prison  achieve their potential through learning.

NOMS National Offender Management Service – Make sure people serve the sentences and orders handed out by courts, both in prisons and in the community

Shannon Trust – Transforming lives by inspiring prisoners who can read, to teach prisoners who cannot.

User Voice Charity – led and delivered by ex-offenders who consistently foster dialogue between users and providers of services within the criminal justice system

Inside Time – Each month 60,000 copies of this newspaper are distributed to prisoners throughout the UK

Arsenal Football Club

Keep Out Train prisoners to run intervention programmes for young people that inform, support and divert those between 13 and 17 who are either at risk of entering the criminal justice system or are already involved in criminal activity.


Wormwood Scrubs HMP

Wandsworth HMP

Pentonville HMP

HMP Send 


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